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The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership Hardcover – September 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 715 pages
  • Publisher: The Toby Press, LLC; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592642780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592642786
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Avner, born in Manchester, England, arrived in Palestine in 1947 as a dedicated 19-year-old Zionist, on the eve of the birth of the Jewish state. He eventually entered Israel’s foreign service and served as speechwriter, secretary, and advisor to four Israeli Prime Ministers — Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and Menachem Begin. This often-fascinating insider’s account of the careers and personalities of these leaders is a semiautobiographical rendering of Avner’s own experiences during critical episodes in Israeli history, especially during the War of Independence. Occasionally, Avner’s narrative is overly gossipy, but for the most part this is a revealing story of how these men operated in moments of both calm and crisis. Avner reserves his greatest admiration for Begin, and his near-worship of the man is likely to discomfit many in Israel and in the U.S. Overall, this book provides valuable insights into many of the key events and personalities in the history of Israel. --Jay Freeman

Review

<span></span><span></span>... a gripping, intimate, intricately detailed and fast-paced account of Israeli politics at the highest levels...a front-row seat to the drama of Israeli statecraft in moments of crisis and triumph, tragedy and joy. I couldn't put it down. --Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal

...one of the most remarkable accounts we are ever likely to get of how Israel has been governed over the decades...All of it is here...the intellectual arguments made and those that were not marshaled; the decisions taken and those that were ducked...the ultimate insider's account. --David Horovitz, The Jerusalem Post

It is extremely rare that a skilled diplomat is placed at the pinnacle of power across several Israeli governments and can truly deliver an insider's perspective with such skill and clarity... a must-read for anyone seeking to understand Israel. Dore Gold, Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN.

...the rare kind of history which comes alive for any reader, and will stay with them long after they finish the book. --Samuel Lewis, Former US Ambassador to Israel

...a sweeping tome of Israeli politics and history. --Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State

...a fascinating account of someone who was an eye witness to many historic moments in the history of the Jewish state...provide[s] insight into the actions of our nation s leaders and offers important lessons for the future. --Benjamin Netenyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

...a sweeping tome of Israeli politics and history. --Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State

...a fascinating account of someone who was an eye witness to many historic moments in the history of the Jewish state...provide[s] insight into the actions of our nation s leaders and offers important lessons for the future. --Benjamin Netenyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

More About the Author

Yehuda Avner served as advisor and English speechwriter to Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin, Begin, Meir and Eshkol. He is a former Israeli Ambassador to Britain, Ireland and Australia, and served in diplomatic positions at the Israeli Consulate in New York and the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. Ambassador Avner was born in Manchester, England, and has lived in Israel since 1947. The ultimate insider to the Israeli political scene, he is a sought-after speaker, who offers a unique prism through which to view Israel's current political situation.

Customer Reviews

Very well written and fascinating history.
Gloria Friedman
Avner actually knew well all the Prime Ministers from Ben Gurion through Menachem Begin.
Martin
I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves Israel and World History.
Brooklyn Joe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Jay Levinson on August 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Yehuda Avner, a retired Israel Foreign Ministry official and former native of Manchester, has written a very readable behind-the-scenes account highlighting segments of his career, during which he came into working contact with five Israeli prime ministers and countless senior players in government. The book gives glimpses into the intricate workings of bureaucracy and the people who shaped history.

The book is not an objective analysis of Israeli foreign policy, nor does it purport to be such. Rather, it provides insight into people and how they worked. Ariel Sharon had a keen military mind. Abba Eban was disliked by many and sometimes excluded from the flow of information and the decision-making process. Key documents provided by Israel "fell between the cracks" in the American less-than-amicable transition from the Carter presidency to that of Ronald Reagan. Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat had a strong personal liking and trust for each other. Begin preferred to speak extemporaneously; Reagan used cue cards.

There is, of course, considerable material concerning political events. Jimmy Carter put extreme pressure on Israel to accept an international conference to "solve" the problems of the Middle East, a move strongly opposed by the Begin administration. This was a reversal of Henry Kissinger's approach of an incremental peace stressing confidence-building measures. As pressure mounted and concerns about the Soviet role and PLO representation dominated discourse, the international conference proposed for Geneva became abruptly moot. Anwar Sadat buried the issue with his historic visit to Jerusalem and direct talks with Israel. Not that there were not theoretical concerns, which seem almost bizarre in retrospect.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is undoubtedly one of the best non-fiction books of 2010 and arguably the very best. Reading Avner's clear eloquent language and the manner in which he presents the dramas and dialogues, we are not surprised that Prime Minister after Prime Minister of different parties and different agendas requested that he be their speech and letter writer. Avner was present with Israeli and English Prime Ministers and American Presidents at crucial historic moments, taking notes, and he now offers his readers intimate behind the scene pictures of what actually happened and what was really said in Jerusalem, Washington, London, and other places. Avner describes famous personalities at their best moments and when they were flawed. People who think they know the history of the founding of the State of Israel and its relationships with the United States though the premiership of Menachem Begin will have their eyes opened. And those who consider Begin, the hero of this chronicle, a terrorist, will come to realize, as did Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, his arch enemy, that Begin was a brilliant and compassionate thinker and leader, and that he was the consummate gentleman even when he was in opposition to the government.

We read, for example, how Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, a seemingly lackluster prime minister, was asked by several Israeli leaders to resign before the Six-Day War so that Ben-Gurion could take over and pursue and win the impending war, but he refused and readied the Israeli armed forces for the successful fight of its life.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth C. Eliasberg on September 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Prime Ministers is a warm, engaging, compelling, very well written, and highly human memoir of an author whose portrayal of people and events is so moving as to make you want to meet him as much as the interesting, significant, and critically important people that he writes about. Avner does not relate history, he invites you into it - he reaches out and touches you with it. This is a living history of some of the most critical events of our time, presented in an incredibly readable manner. And yet, the author's humility is manifest; he never advances his cause, although it is apparent that his role in the events to which he was party was more significant than that of a mere scribe or narrator. This is a man who knows how to tell a story, make it come alive, draw you into it, yet not overwhelm you with the overwhelming events of which he speaks. I could not put this book down; it felt more like I was having a stimulating conversation with an old friend than wading through a period piece. It was as though I was an observer rather than a reader. There are few books that I have read - and I am an avid reader - that I could more comfortably and confidently recommend than The Prime Ministers. Ken Eliasberg
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Leader on November 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was so taken by The Prime Ministers, that I moved heaven and earth to meet the author, Yehuda Avner,on a recent visit to Israel. Mr. Avner (please call me "Yehuda") graciously showed up at a cafe in his building and ordered an orange juice to my cafe latte. Dressed simply in a windbreaker, shirt, and slacks, Mr. Avner immediately radiates an impression of being a wonderful listener. Rather than telling me more stories, he asked first what I had thought of his book. When I responded that I thought it was actually a love story, his eyes lit up, and he confirmed my view, saying that while he admired and respected all of the Prime Ministers that he wrote about, his real love was for Menachim Begin. Part of this is because Begin, like Avner, was the first Prime Minister who was "religious." Mr. Avner told a wonderful story (not in the book) about a disagreement between himself and former Prime Minister Rabin, who could not understand Mr. Avner's unwillingness to work on Shabbat, despite an international crisis. When Avner finally showed up after the Sabbath had ended, Rabin responded scornfully, "Oh, now you are here when it is really too late." Mr.Begin, on the other hand, confined himself to synagogue and his home on the Sabbath and did not ask his staff to work.

Clearly, Mr. Avner has many more tales to tell, some of which will appear in a second installment of his book that he is presently working on. For now, I am left with the memory of a man who observed and played an important role in the formative years of the Jewish state and who relates his experiences in a warm and personal way. When I commented that I enjoyed the book because of its total absence of negative stories, Mr. Avner said, "So you noticed!" This is the beauty of being with Mr. Avner: you will never hear anything nasty or unpleasant. Only the beautiful is on display from this beautiful and wise man.
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